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What Is a VPN and How Does It Work?

A VPN encrypts your traffic to give you online privacy and security.


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What Is a VPN?How Does It Work?

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What Does a VPN Do?

Secure Your Traffic

Secure Your Traffic

On public Wi-Fi, it's easy for cybercriminals to steal sensitive data such as payment information. A VPN encrypts and protects your online activity.

Safeguard Your Privacy

Safeguard Your Privacy

Your IP address can expose your real location. A VPN masks your IP address to keep your location private.

Access Sites Securely

Access Sites Securely

Network administrators might block your favorite services and websites at work or school. A VPN lets you access blocked content securely on restricted networks.

Why Should You Use a VPN?

Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi

Cybercriminals can snoop on your private information, especially on public Wi-Fi. Protect yourself by using a VPN whenever you travel, work remotely, or connect to unknown networks.

Share Files Securely

Thinking about sending photos to friends or sensitive documents to colleagues? Use a VPN to encrypt your internet connection for secure file sharing. A VPN can also help you enjoy faster speeds if you're experiencing ISP throttling.

Browse Freely and Privately

ISPs, government agencies, and other snoopers can track and collect your sensitive data. Using a VPN helps you keep your data private, for your eyes only. A VPN is also essential for defeating censorship and browsing the internet freely.

Stream without Limits

Looking for a simple way to stream without slowdowns? A VPN is the easiest way to stop content-based throttling. Simply connect to your VPN before streaming your favorite content. It encrypts your streaming sessions, preventing your ISP from imposing speed limits.

Game Online Safely

DDoS attacks can compromise your system security and ruin your online gaming experience with lagging and disconnected sessions. Playing games online with a VPN helps you avoid DDoS attacks by masking your IP address.

Maintain Access When Traveling

While traveling, you can still enjoy the services and content you love without any interruptions. Simply use a VPN to securely access your favorite services, such as streaming and banking accounts, by changing your virtual location.

How Does a VPN Work?

A VPN works by encrypting your internet traffic and masking your IP address. Using a VPN helps you establish a private connection between your device and the internet.

Without a VPN, your online data is directed through your ISP, which can track your browsing history. However, with a VPN, your data is encrypted and routed through a secure server before reaching its destination.

But can't a VPN see your online traffic just like your ISP? Yes, it can, which is why it's essential to choose a VPN carefully in 2024. Look for a reliable provider with a strict No Logs policy that doesn’t record your online activities. Also, make sure independent security experts have verified this policy.

What Is a VPN Server?

Servers are the backbone of a VPN service. A secure connection is established when your VPN authenticates your client (e.g. computer, smartphone) with a VPN server.

When you’re connected to a VPN, websites can only see the VPN server's IP address. This masks your real IP address and location, giving you more privacy control. The traffic traveling between your device and the VPN server is protected with encryption, so your private data stays safe.

For enhanced security, find a VPN provider that uses RAM-only servers. CyberGhost VPN uses RAM-only servers that completely delete all traces of data with every server reboot. CyberGhost VPN also has fast, secure servers optimized for streaming, gaming, and downloading.

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How Does VPN Encryption Work?

VPN tunneling and encryption go hand in hand. They protect the connection between your device and the VPN server. VPN tunneling means each data packet is wrapped inside another data packet for protection.

The internet traffic that flows in the VPN tunnel is also encrypted. This encrypted connection protects your online activity from surveillance and cyber threats.

CyberGhost VPN safeguards your private data with best-in-class 256-bit AES encryption. Our VPN apps have automatic Wi-Fi protection, which connects you to a VPN server when you’re about to join an unsecured network.

Types of VPN Encryption Protocols

WireGuard®

  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • Open source
  • Uses UDP
  • Might be blocked by firewalls
  • Best for fastest speeds

OpenVPN

  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • Open source
  • Uses TCP and UDP, SSL/TSL
  • Less likely to be blocked by firewalls
  • Best overall balance between security and speed

IKEv2

  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • Not open source
  • Uses UDP
  • Might be blocked by firewalls
  • Best for mobile

Types of VPN

NameConnection methodUse case
Personal VPN or consumer VPNAllows users to connect via their VPN’s provider servers Useful for individuals who want to browse with privacy and security
Site-to-site VPNEnables remote employees to access each other’s networks securelyUseful for large organizations to share files and sensitive data in a safe, private
Remote access VPNAllows users to connect to workplace networks Useful for working remotely

What to Look For in a VPN

Security and Privacy

Security and Privacy

Choosing a VPN with robust security features and a strong commitment to privacy ensures that your online activities remain confidential and protected from potential threats. Prioritize features like RAM-only servers, encryption, and DNS leak protection.

Speeds

Speeds

Opting for a VPN with high-speed connections is crucial for seamless browsing, streaming, and downloading. Look for a VPN service with support for fast and secure VPN protocols (WireGuard®, OpenVPN, and IKEv2) and 10-Gbps servers.

No Log Policy

No-Logs Policy

A strong no-log policy means that the VPN provider doesn't record your online activities. Apart from a no-logs policy, you should verify that your provider has undergone independent audits to support its claims.

Kill Switch

Kill Switch

A kill switch feature is essential as it automatically disconnects your device from the internet if the VPN connection drops, preventing exposure of your data during unexpected interruptions.

Customer Support

Customer Support

Good customer support is vital for resolving any issues promptly. A responsive support team ensures you can get help whenever you encounter challenges.

Data Allowance

Data Allowance

Consider a VPN that offers unlimited bandwidth, especially if you engage in data-intensive activities. CyberGhost VPN doesn’t impose caps on your connection so you can stream, game, or download files with fast connection speeds.

Network Size and Server Locations

Network Size and Server Locations

A diverse network with numerous server locations provides better flexibility and improved performance. You can connect to servers that are closer to your physical location for faster speeds. CyberGhost VPN has VPN servers in 100 countries.

Free vs. Paid

Free vs. Paid

Using free VPNs may be appealing, but choosing a paid service ensures enhanced security and speed. Note that some free VPNs may track and sell your sensitive data, compromising your security.

How to Set Up a VPN

Setting up a VPN starts with downloading our user-friendly VPN apps for Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, or Android, plus Amazon Fire Stick TV and Android TV. Install CyberGhost VPN on your router to cover every device on your home Wi-Fi network.

Set up a VPN by following these 3 steps:

  1. Sign up for CyberGhost VPN
  2. Download a VPN app for your device
  3. Connect to a VPN server location to browse with privacy and security!
How to Set Up a VPN

FAQ

A VPN, or virtual private network, creates a secure connection between your device and a remote VPN server. A VPN secures your online data with strong encryption and masks your IP address.

A VPN is used for protecting your digital identity and keeping cyber threats at bay especially on unsecured networks like public Wi-Fi. It also helps you securely access websites and services on restricted networks like work or school.

To begin using a VPN, first choose a trustworthy provider. Then, download and install the VPN on your device. Get CyberGhost VPN and connect up to 7 devices simultaneously using one account. Finally, connect to a VPN server to create a secure VPN connection.

Yes, you need a VPN at home to protect your digital identity, mask your real location, and fend off cyber threats. A VPN also helps with streaming without your ISP slowing you down, downloading files in a safe way, and gaming with low lag.

To see if you’re using a VPN, type “what is my IP address” into Google, and note your current IP address. Alternatively, use our IP checker page for quick results.

Next, turn on your VPN and connect to a server location. Check your IP address in the VPN app or with our IP checker page. Last, compare the two IP addresses. If the two are the same, your VPN is not working properly. If the two IP addresses are different, you have a VPN that’s masking your real location.

On average, VPNs cost about $10 per month, but if you buy a longer term subscription, you can get the service at a cheaper price.

Some VPNs allow you to try the service for free. CyberGhost VPN lets you test the full-featured version of the VPN without any limitations. Enjoy a 24-hour free trial for Windows and macOS, 3-day free trial for Android, and 7-day free trial for iOS.

If you want to buy CyberGhost VPN after your free trial, the 45-day money-back guarantee still gives you plenty of time to test our VPN service risk-free.

Your digital privacy and security should always come first when you go online, which is why using a VPN all the time is important. If you want more control over your internet traffic, it’s best to use a VPN service that offers support for split tunneling.

VPN split tunneling lets you choose which apps and websites need VPN protection and which can access the internet without encryption. This way, you can protect the apps that handle sensitive data while allowing other services to access the internet with no encryption.

VPNs are legal in most parts of the world. Individual people, governments, and corporations use VPNs to protect sensitive information and prevent cyber attacks.

However, in countries with highly restrictive internet laws, you’re only allowed to use government-approved VPNs. It's always best to check local laws and regulations before traveling to a new country.

Note: We don’t condone using CyberGhost VPN to break the law. Illegal activity is still illegal, even if you’re under the protection of a VPN.

Yes, you can use a VPN with almost any smart TV in order to catch your favorite TV shows, movies, or sports safely and privately. Set up the best streaming VPN directly on your router to secure your smart TV with strong encryption. It also helps you get rid of ISP throttling and enjoy fastest speeds.

Using a VPN for online banking is a secure and simple way to protect your financial information. A VPN encrypts your internet traffic, including your online banking sessions, so you can rest easy knowing your sensitive information remains safe and private. It comes in handy especially when you connect to unsecured networks like public Wi-Fi.

Don't Take Our Word for It!
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With a first-class fleet of servers in 100 countries, we give you blazing-fast speeds and unlimited bandwidth. No more buffering, ISP throttling, or proxy errors with our VPN connection.

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Everything You Need in a VPN

  • VPN servers in 100 countries worldwide
  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • DNS and IP leak protection
  • Automatic Kill Switch
  • OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard® protocols
  • Strict No Logs Policy
  • Unlimited bandwidth and traffic
  • Fast VPN speeds
  • Up to 7 devices protected simultaneously
  • Apps for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS & more
  • 24/7 live Customer Support service
  • 45-day money-back guarantee
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